After promising Tuesday -- this year's legislative session's opening day -- they would hammer out a deal to raise Minnesota's minimum wage, lawmakers quickly announced a hearing to get it done.

On Thursday afternoon House and Senate lawmakers will meet in a joint committee to begin hearing from people with opinions on the issue.

In the coming weeks lawmakers are expected to figure out whether they will raise the state's minimum -- now $6.15 an hour and one of the nation's lowest -- to $9.50 by 2015. Last year, House approved last year and many advocates have pitched raising the wage floor to $9.50.

Addressing a Capitol rally on Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, said raising the wage was one of the session's top priorities, if not the top priority.

Last year, the Senate backed a more modest increase and negotiations broke down between the House and Senate.

But this year, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, attended a rally of folks pushing to raise the wage to $9.50 by 2015 and wore a button declaring his support.

After the rally, he said he believed the Senate could pass a measure to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 but lawmakers may want to see the wage floor inch up more slowly than advocates have pushed and the House had backed.

The Thursday hearing will be at 4:30 p.m. or half an hour after the House adjourns its floor session in room 5 of the State Office Building.

Photo: Tuesday's minimum wage rally with DFLers from House, Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton's commissioners on stage//source: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune.